The Working Girl’s Purse

The last “mom” post was in August, when she turned 99.

Not much has happened since, other than she keeps eating, drinking coffee and taking lots of naps. She’s having a hard time holding her head up as this is one of the effects of dementia – her brain is forgetting to tell her body what to do.

When I visit, I never know if she is going to be alert or have a sleepy day. The most recent visit was a sleepy day. I tried to wake her for lunch and coffee, but mom was having none of it. I learned she was awake the day before, when they had their Christmas party, so I suppose she wore herself out and needed to take Sunday off.

On Thanksgiving, however, mom was alert and we had an interesting conversation.

Let me preface this by saying that a few years ago, mom was focused on her purse. “Where’s my purse? What have you done with my purse? I need my purse! Someone stole money out of my purse! Call the police!” This went on for a while until I started telling mom that I had her purse at home and it was locked up and safe. She eventually believed me and dropped the subject.

So, Thanksgiving Day, I walked up to mom, who was sitting in the living room.

“Hello mom! Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Where’s my purse?”

(In my head, I said “Oh crap. Here we go again.”)

“I have your purse at home. For safekeeping.”

“I need my purse.”

“What for, mom?”

“I have to go to work.”

“It’s Thanksgiving, mom.”

“No, it’s not.”

“You don’t have to go to work.”

“Yes, I do.”

“It’s Thanksgiving, your day off.”

“No, I have to go to work.”

At this point, reason was not reasonable and diversion was necessary. I told mom that before she could go to work, she needed to eat a good lunch and have some coffee. Mom was good with that.

By the time she finished eating her meal and drinking two cups of coffee, the purse was forgotten.


But then…

Mom proceeded to tell me I had a younger brother and she had seven daughters. Wow, really? I can’t wait to tell my only brother. (There are no other sisters to tell.)

I’m positive mom was somehow blending one of her younger brothers and seven sisters into the mix since she often thinks I’m her sister and my brother is HER brother. It’s the way of dementia, the constant confusion and loss of reality.

A friend asked about mom at church on Sunday and I told her the Thanksgiving story. She laughed.

It’s really all I can do during these visits – smile and laugh at the bright spots. Hold mom’s hand. Rub her back. Watch her enjoy a cup of coffee. Leave her alone when she’s sleeping. Tell her I love her. There’s no point in self-pity or tears because it does neither of us any good. I’ve been at peace with mom’s dementia for some time because I know I can’t fix it. Every day she’s alive is a blessing in some way, so I embrace the time we have left together.

I believe I said that in the last “mom” post, but it bears repeating.

The working girl keeps going and I have to avoid mentioning her purse.

As for the extra brother and six sisters, I only hope mom hasn’t been keeping secrets from us. πŸ˜‰

23 responses to The Working Girl’s Purse

  1. Joanne Sisco says:

    omg – bless her heart! ❀️. How is it possible for my heart to hurt and rejoice for you at the same time?

    It sounds like every visit is an adventure. I didn’t know that dementia causes the brain to forget to tell the body what to do. Good luck with future purse capers πŸ˜‰

    • bikerchick57 says:

      After dad died, when I would go visit mom, she would end up leaning forward in her chair during our conversations. I always thought it was because she was having a hard time hearing me. Now I know it was an early warning sign of her dementia.

      It is an adventure with mom. I prefer the days that she is alert, but I’d rather not she get started again on her purse. Perhaps we can talk about those brothers and sisters of mine! πŸ™‚

  2. Dan Antion says:

    That’s a lot of brothers and sisters! I love reading about your sweet service and the loving company you provide for your mom. Keep that purse under careful guard. It somehow makes me feel good to know that she’s still drinking coffee.

  3. dweezer19 says:

    Bless her heart, Mary. And yours. We experienced all these things with hubby’s mother. My husband swers her last stories were all false because he had never heard them before. Maybe another life, eh? She always worried after her (empty) purse. Bless them. Bless you. Hugs. πŸ’•

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you for the blessings, Cheryl. I’ll be sure to pass that along with the next visit. ❀🧑❀

  4. My heart goes out to you and your Mom – both strong women. What your Mom is dealing with is one tough diagnosis, and I applaud you for being able to recognize it for it is and for enjoying the good moments. Caregiving is a challenging job, and I’m not sure those who don’t enter the field truly understand the ups and downs. Prayers to both of you, and may your Christmas visit be a good one without a purse in sight. πŸ™‚

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words, Judy! And for your ❀. I have high regard and empathy for those who choose to take care of a family member in their home. It’s extremely difficult to deal with this every day.

      I’ll be sure to make no mention of you-know-what at Christmas.

  5. LB says:

    Mary, how timely that as I clicked on your blog, I wondered how your Mom had been doing. What timing!
    You are so good with her, and so right about the diversion. You are a wonderful daughter.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Awww…thanks Laurie! I’m so glad that mom has a team that takes care of her and can help with the diversion. πŸ™‚

  6. marianallen says:

    It’s such a blessing that you and your mother cherish each other, whatever changes time brings. I miss my mom every day. She took care of me, and then I took care of her, and then she left me for greener pastures. It’s one heap of blessing to care for somebody you love, and a double heap to realize what a blessing it is. HUGS

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Hugs back to you, Marian. Your comments touched my heart deeply. I miss my dad the way you miss your mom, although he had his mind until the end. I hope he can see that mom is being cared for and that his daughter loves them both.

  7. joey says:

    It’s touching you feel this tenderness for your mom, as it’s bittersweet.
    As I read this I thought about the “purse panic” we all face like “key panic” and phone panic” and how real that is, and also, how tired I am after parties. I think I’d be agreeable to eating a good meal and having a cup of coffee too, so very wise on your part.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      The panic for mom is real times a thousand. I hate seeing her in panic mode, on the verge of tears, so it was a good thing I got her mind away from the purse on Thanksgiving.

  8. Ally Bean says:

    *sigh* Beautifully written, but still so wistful & bittersweet to watch a parent slowly slide away. You handled the conversation well and did get a good blog story out of it, but I’m sorry for your loss, in awe of your ability to remain clear-headed.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      A friend of mine, who watched her mom slowly deteriorate and cried a lot, asked me one time why I wasn’t more emotional over my mom’s situation. She had not seen me during the moments I sobbed over mom’s anxiety and my own loss of a woman who used to know exactly who I was. These days, the knowledge of and experience with dementia, along with a strong faith, have put me in a place of acceptance and one in which I can only look for bright spots and the ability to still hold her hand.

      • Ally Bean says:

        Yes, you’re right. Eventually all you can do is be there for her. I understand that. And I’m sure she appreciates you for doing so.

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